After two boys get into a fight at school, a juvenile counselor sends them to mediation to try to settle their differences. Here’s what happened.
Time to stop fighting and start listening
The mediators resorted to chitchat, hoping to reduce the obvious tension between the two adolescent boys in the room. Neither boy was very talkative. Their opening stories were brief and presented in a matter-of-fact fashion. Yes, they had gotten into a physical fight on school grounds—no big deal—it would never happen again. Neither kid wanted much to do with the other, nor did they want to be involved in the mediation process. If they could just sign some papers and leave, they could get on with their separate lives, and life would be just fine.
Patient discussion reveals underlying issues
The mediators slowly teased out the boys’ story, revealing some powerful underlying issues steeped in distrust and misunderstanding. The conflict between the two of them was intense and longstanding. One of the boys was a “popular” kid, the other an “outcast.” These distinct worlds in their school community created a powerful division between the two boys.
Breaking down barriers
One of the mediators asked the outcast, “Just suppose one day you woke up and went to school, and low and behold when you got there you discovered that you had suddenly become THE most popular kid in the entire school. How would that be for you?” The boy’s response was completely unexpected. He shook his head and vehemently replied, “Well, I’d have to kill myself.”
Although the outcast claimed to “hate” the popular crowd, gentle exploration revealed that he actually had compassion for the considerable obstacles the popular kids faced at school every day. He had insight into the complicated relationship dynamics that constantly challenged the popular kids’ self-esteem. Once the communication dam broke, both boys poured out their frustrations. After the emotions had cleared, the outcast took a deep breath, looked his nemesis in the eye, and exclaimed, “Wow! I don’t think anyone has ever understood me as much as you do right now.”
A difference-making agreement
With the help of their mediators, the boys worked together to construct an agreement establishing not only the parameters of how to deal with one another in the future, but also how to approach and resolve the conflicts they faced in their daily lives. One of their most important resolutions was an agreement to be emotional support systems for one another during difficult times. The boys left the mediation session laughing and chatting.
Mediation can help build stronger relationships
Just like the boys in the situation above, mediation can help you build stronger relationships based on authentic communication. Contact your local DRC today.